The City and the Metropolitan County of Greater Manchester

Manchester is a relatively new city; born of the Industrial Revolution. It played a decisive and leading role in world textile manufacture and production in the late 18th century, a position it maintained and held until its decline in the 1960s.

Leaders of commerce, science and technology, like John Dalton and Richard Arkwright, helped create a vibrant and thriving economy – most of the nation’s wealth was created in this region during Victorian times.

But it was undoubtedly textiles, and other associated trades, which dominated and created a young dynamic city, whose very symbol is the worker bee – a feature of the city’s coat of arms and an emblem repeated in mosaics all over the floor of the city’s Town Hall and hotels.

Manchester UK is one of the largest metropolitan conurbations in the United Kingdom, justly proud of its history and heritage, its culture, enterprise and its entrepreneurial spirit. In more recent times, it has had to reconfigure its traditional manufacturing base to develop thriving new technologies. It has rebuilt itself as a leading centre of modernist architecture since the terrorist bombing of the city in 1996.

This new sense of vigour and dynamism is evident in the appearance of an ever increasing number of city centre hotels, luxury apartments and self-catering accommodation as well as office space to rent.
It is a tribute to its people and planners of Manchester that the city arose again out of the ashes of this atrocity, phoenix-like, to become a thoroughly modern city – a leading light of the 21st century.

Chetham’s School of Music, Canals and Railways in Castlefield, Underbank Hall Stockport and the Saxon Mill at Lower Alderley

Manchester History – an overview

There have, (arguably) been 2 Manchesters. The first, the Roman fort at Castlefield, and the second, around the Cathedral and Chetham’s Music School , which formed the medieval town of Manchester.
By the time of the Norman Conquest of Britain in 1066, the region was clearly Anglo-Saxon, and their name for the town was “Mameceaster”; (it was not to be until the 17th century that the name “Manchester” would come into popular usage). In early times, Manchester was a little-known hamlet adjacent to, and belonging to the then noble town of Salford.


After the Roman withdrawal from the fort at Mamuciam (Latin = “a breast-shaped hill”) around 410 AD, the town (and the fort) fell into ruin and was prey to various invading factions from abroad – notably the Angles and the Danes and the Saxons, all of whom occupied the region at various times, and over a long period became assimilated into the local population. “Mamuciam” in Latin means “a breast-shaped hill” – Agricola’s description of the place where he built the original fort overlooking the River Irwell, somewhere around present day Camp Street (now in Salford).

Manchester’s Medieval Fortifications

There is a brief historic reference in the town records of one Edward the Elder, son of King Alfred the Great, taking over the town in 920 AD and making repairs to the “fortifications”, (probably based around the present cathedral), which would still have been little more than a wooden palisade.

Norman Manchester and Domesday 1086

In gratitude for the support which Norman barons had given in the conquest of Britain, King William (the Conqueror) granted generous rewards of lands and holdings to them. Salford was thus granted to one Rogier de Poitevin (also known as Roger de Pitou), which included several feifdoms, the Manor of Manchester amongst them. Later, de Poitevin granted this manor, in turn, to one of his own supporters, Albert de Greslé (also known as Albert Grelley).

Grelley was to become the first Baron of Manchester, and the Grelley family held the manor for the next 200 years. In 1086 there is a brief mention of Manchester in William’s great commissioned Domesday Book, by which time it was a recognised ecclesiastical centre with a parish covering over 60 square miles.

The town had, in 1222, been granted an annual fair, which was held on Acresfield, just outside the town, (now St Ann’s Square), and lasted 2 days; this was extended to 3 days in 1227. By this time the town had its own court. There was also a weekly Saturday market held in Market Square, just off Market Street, sited roughly where Shambles Square stood. (This square was demolished in the IRA bombing of Manchester in 1996, and was located to the rear of the Marks & Spencer Department Store which has been rebuilt after that bombing).